Police identify man killed in boating accident

The man who died when a skiff overturned on Kachemak Bay last Wednesday has been identified as a Chugiak resident.

Homer Police confirmed that 23-year-old Justin Vanderlooven was pronounced dead at South Peninsula Hospital on July 8, despite efforts to revive him.

Vandeerlooven’s father, Scott Vanderlooven, 54, was in the skiff with his son and survived, as did an unidentified third man, said Homer Police Lt. Ryan Browning on Tuesday. All three were pulled from the water by mariners in the area and taken to the Homer Harbor by private boats. The Vanderloovens arrived first in one boat followed by the third man in the second boat.

A 14-foot skiff carrying the three men overturned near Gull Island in the mouth of China Poot Bay. It was reported shortly after 10 a.m. last Wednesday. Personal boats in the area responded to help three people, including a small aluminum boat called Ice, which was carrying a group of surfers. The Homer Volunteer Fire Department and Homer Police Department responded to the harbor.

Upon their return to the harbor, two of the people involved were hypothermic but able to walk themselves up the Homer Harbor load-launch ramp, said HVFD Chief Mark Kirko. Justin Vanderlooven was first reported to be in serious condition. Browning confirmed that he had died last Wednesday, but his identify was not initially released.

Browning said on Tuesday that the boaters had gotten about halfway to China Poot Bay and were trying to find the channel in. They realized it was too dangerous and had started to turn around when a wave from 6- to 10-foot seas caught the skiff and capsized it.

“The dad said he knew the boat was going over. He jumped out,” Browning said. “It took another wave and sank. The poor kiddo got caught and it flipped over.”

All three wore personal floatation devices, Browning said. Justin Vanderlooven got tangled in halibut hooks and fishing tackle under the boat and rescuers had to struggle to free him.

Clem Tillion Jr. was one of the surfers who happened to be nearby when the skiff flipped. He responded first, Clarke said. Tillion started cardio pulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, on Vanderlooven, and continued it on one of the rescue boats, the F/V Casino, all the way to the harbor.

Captain Gabe Linegar was leaving the harbor for a Coast Guard inspection and emergency drill with Chief Warrant Officer Angela Hollis, a marine inspector for the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment based in Homer. The Casino detoured to help. Crew from the F/V Captain Cook, a seiner captained by Malcolm Milne, also responded. Because the Casino was the faster boat, it took the Vanderloovens back first.

Browning and another Homer Police officer, Kellen Stock, met the Casino at the harbor and continued CPR in the ambulance to the hospital. Emergency Room staff at South Peninsula Hospital continued working on Vanderlooven, Browning said, but were unable to revive him. Stock, a Coast Guard veteran, is a recent hire with Homer Police.

Browning said everyone involved in the rescue responded quickly and smoothly.

“Everybody did a great job working on him (Justin Vanderlooven) and trying what they could,” Browning said.

Browning said police and emergency workers involved in the incident did a critical response briefing on Tuesday. The briefing gives them a chance to review what happened and discuss how to improve emergency response. It also offers first responders an opportunity to talk over the event and to get information about counseling resources for dealing with trauma.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com. Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.